Sony Cancels Theatrical Release for ‘The Interview’ on Christmas

The Interview James Franco Lizzy Caplan

With theater chains defecting en masse, Sony Pictures Entertainment has pulled the planned Christmas Day release of “The Interview.”

U.S. officials have reportedly linked a massive cyber attack against Sony to North Korea, which is at the center of the Seth Rogen-James Franco comedy.

“We are deeply saddened at this brazen effort to suppress the distribution of a movie, and in the process do damage to our company, our employees, and the American public,” Sony said in a statement. “We stand by our filmmakers and their right to free expression and are extremely disappointed by this outcome.”

In announcing the decision to cancel the holiday debut, Sony also hit back at the hackers who threatened movie theaters and moviegoers and who have terrorized the studio and its employees for weeks.

“Those who attacked us stole our intellectual property, private emails and sensitive and proprietary material, and sought to destroy our spirit and our morale – all apparently to thwart the release of a movie they did not like,” the statement reads.

A few hours after making the announcent, a studio spokesman said that Sony had “no further plans” to release the comedy, either on VOD or DVD.

“The Interview” centers on a hapless television host who is recruited to assassinate North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un. The country has condemned the film and some cyber-security experts believe that it played a role in the hacking attack on the studio. North Korea has denied involvement in the attacks.

Rogen and Franco star in the picture, which cost $42 million to produce.

Sony has been reeling for weeks since hackers broke into the studio’s computer system in November and stole internal documents, email messages, film budgets, spreadsheets detailing top executive salaries and the social security numbers of thousands of employees. The documents and records were subsequently leaked online, setting off a firestorm of media coverage.

Tuesday’s message accompanied another data dump. It threatened violence on theaters that showed “The Interview” and people who attend screenings.

“The world will be full of fear,” the message reads. “Remember the 11th of September 2001. We recommend you to keep yourself distant from the places at that time. (If your house is nearby, you’d better leave.)”

In response, exhibition industry lobbying arm the National Association of Theatre Owners said its members must decide individually whether to release the picture and Sony said it would respect theater owners’ decision not to exhibit “The Interview.” That set off a cascade of cancellations.

The bulk of the country’s 10 largest theater chains — a group that includes AMC, Regal, Cinemark, Carmike and Southern Theatres — announced they would delay showing the picture or would drop it altogether. In statements, many of the theater chains suggested that Sony’s lack of confidence in the film prompted their decision.

Regal, for instance, said its decision was “due to the wavering support of the film ‘The Interview’ by Sony Pictures, as well as the ambiguous nature of any real or perceived security threats.”

Sony was more conciliatory even as it said exhibitor defections motivated its decision.

“We respect and understand our partners’ decision and, of course, completely share their paramount interest in the safety of employees and theatergoers,” the studio’s statement read.

Bruce Nash, founder of box office site TheNumbers, said that Christmas is one of the busiest times of year for moviegoing and is particularly strong for family films. Any perceived danger or threat might have depressed ticket sales.

“It was never going to be one of the big films of Christmas and clearly chains are going to be concerned about making sure people feel comfortable bringing their children to ‘Annie,’ ‘Into the Woods’ or ‘Night at the Museum,” said Nash.

Filed Under:

Want to read more articles like this one? SUBSCRIBE TO VARIETY TODAY.
Post A Comment 1229

Leave a Reply


Comments are moderated. They may be edited for clarity and reprinting in whole or in part in Variety publications.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

  1. Colby Denton says:

    Colby Denton
    EMC/JOUR/RIM 3650
    Discussion Post #1
    Sony’s newest film, “The Interview,” starring Seth Rogen and James Franco was destined to be yet another crass, inappropriate comedy that caters to a particular venue of viewers. Normally, the film would have received small to moderate viewings and hardly made back its budget. This scandal that took place, however, put this movie at the forefront of attention. Not only was this movie now a cancelled project, it was something much more than that; it was a symbol, a shining example of just what happens when exterior influences attempt to control life in the United States. Founded on freedom, its citizens do not take too kindly to being told what they can and cannot do, let alone watch in their own home at their discretion. “The Interview” has since made much more than its budget and has surpassed other films that would have been stiff competition for the low-brow comedy. With so much controversy surrounding the film, it certainly has made its way into my heart as well as the mainstream. It truly is humorous to see just how much success the movie has wrought after nearly never happening. To most Americans, the terrorists who threatened viewers with violence will never be heeded again. This is America, and not only here, but everywhere, people have been struggling for years to earn the rights to free speech, press and expression. Just because some people dislike something does not mean that the whole of a society will back down and abolish that something. Letting freedom reign has always been the most positive approach and it most likely always will be.

  2. Laurent V says:

    I think Sony should release the movie on National TV, just to show to North Korea who has more power and they are not going to control our freedom of speech, this point Sony already lost money air the movie on television will help Hollywood not communist foreign country will intimidate them.

  3. dan says:

    they should never have backed down now there going to use it as a weapon they can’t beat us any other way

  4. Ace V. says:

    Someone correct me if i’m wrong, but isn’t Sony a Japanese company. Sony Pictures in the US isn’t technically a US company, right? It’s just a branch of the parent company in Japan. See where i’m going with this?

  5. ERIC LEE COBB, SR. says:

    I’m glad Sony changed their mind. I don’t feel they were bowing under any pressure. The truth is, they were about to open a “Pandora’s Box,” or a “Can of Worms,” If they were to release that film, what would stop the next production company from releasing a film titled “Ice Putin” or “Obama”s Drama” and the story-line implying an assasination attempt. Well, I know for one, the United States wouldn’t stand for that, and neither would you (if you voted for him). The point is; though we’re a free nation, with the right to express ourselves (Freedom of Speech), we have a responsibility that goes with that freedom.

    • Ace V. says:

      Yes there is a huge responsibility that goes with freedom of speech. That is to do everything in our power to protect it! ESPECIALLY the type of speech we personally find insulting, unpopular, politically incorrect, inapproriate…even disgusting and vile speech. It all MUST be protected at all costs!!!!!!

    • John Lyle says:

      Oh wait…the British did a mockumentary on the assassination of George Bush.(Death of a President, 2006) Ho Hum….Oh yeah, then there was that Game of Thrones episode with Bush’s head on a stake.
      The US did stand by with a film depicting the assassination of a sitting American president. No one made death threats or released confidential information. A precedent has been set. Any two bit tin horn regime can bring commerce to a halt. How do we fight it? Capitulate? Stand our ground? Retaliate?
      This is a new form of warfare. One million credit card numbers were stolen today from Staples. Many times these hackers are traced back to Russia and China. Even the pentagon was hacked by the Chinese, yet nothing is done and our Dear Leader capitulates again. Strange times with no easy answers.

  6. Victor says:

    I’m so sick of these lunatics. Do you realize that Kim Jung Un won’t even allow Coca-Cola in North Korea? He is one sick mother. If the had the power and the wherewithal, I’d load up all the firepower we have and make North Korea the Grand Canyon east. That would be followed by the message that the next idiots to F with us would suffer the same fate. There’s no dealing with these pigs in any rational manner.

  7. Kyle Hainey says:

    Wow finally maybe we will stop letting these foreigners into our country I am really pissed off that what happened to not negotiating with terrorist good job North America I’m not sure who the bigger pussies are…

  8. Tim Phillips says:

    As a veteran of the US Navy I am flabbergasted we have bowed down to threats from terrorists. North Korea has crossed the line and is acting as a terrorist country and should be treated as such. What’s next, are they going to threaten the stock market and would we allow that to happen? Give an inch and they’ll take a mile.

    Be strong US citizens and companies; don’t lay down and let a communist terrorist country trample on our rights and our lives.

  9. chuchat says:

    The president of them are Super Gangnam style.

  10. Govskeptic says:

    Sony cancelled the film over the N. Korean threat to broadcast even a great deal more of their
    stolen information. What had already been released was more than enough embarrassment.

  11. suzan says:


  12. Jaddy Baddy says:

    First question: Why would anybody want to
    make a movie about assassinating such a
    hapless figure as Kim Jong Un, the puppet
    of the North Korean military regime?

    Second question: Why would anybody
    sabotage another Straight to Video Seth
    Rogan movie?

    This has to be a publicity stunt.

  13. Bob says:

    n commenting on this Interview film cancellation.
    When are you stupid ass greedy bastards going to show any sense of decency , morality or proof or brain activity in film making. Some may call it censorship, that is bullshit. In this case you make a film, a comedy yet, about the assassination of a standing world leader. Mind you I hate everything about North Korea, its dictator, politics, human rights etc. But let’s think about this for a minute, if North Korea, or Iran, or Syria made an internationally distributed film about the political assassination of President Obama, or Putin or …fill in the blank leader, there would be missiles flying. TAKE THIS TO HEARTWE ALL KNOW IT>
    We think we know everything here in the US and have the right to make the rules for everyone else. Well in their culture(s), albeit repressed by our standard, they may not see it that way. The ordinary citizen sees a country who is their enemy, making a film about exploding their leaders head and it’s a comedy. Can you imagine the fear and unrest to know that’s what we think of them? Maybe that’s what we are planning.
    That depiction is an ACT OF WAR., nothing less.
    Look we can make a film about anything, but should we? Seriously? We CAN make a film of a gang rape of a three year old, but we don’t. We CAN make a film about throwing puppies and kittens into a tree chipper , but we don’t. Why? Because there is a built in circuit breaker of right and wrong and people don’t wan tot cross that line. An frankly the studios can’t make money unless the lines are crossed so they don’t make those films…yet.
    We have become so desensitized as a people that there is almost nothing taboo anymore. HAs it made the entertainment of out society better?More peaceful, More copious to real issues? NO . We are a violent, desensitized, high functioning ADHD society. Prescription drug use is at the highest ever in history for any nation. Our brains are so overstimulated with garbage it’s no wonder people go postal every day.
    There are so many talented entertainers now, like never before. Seth, you are one of them. You could play any role and play it very well. You could entertain and succeed in your craft no matter what roles you choose to play. Don’t take the chickenshit out and just “get work”. Make a point to “create” good work.
    Case and point , think of all the actors who are legends in the industry. The ones whose names come to the front of the mind earn thinking of “comedy. Action, Romantic love story, drama etc. How many of those roles were this type of mindless, destructive, purposely inflammatory garbage.
    Same goes for Mr. Franco. Seriously, talk about talent. Don’t waste it.
    Sony … are idiots and I am glad you are being taken to task on this.
    Bob Thomas

  14. Bunny says:

    How annoying. Since when does America bow down to things like this? Since when do we allow someone not liking any of our forms of expression, prevent our freedom of it? Since when do we censor our comedy because it offends some crybaby? Pathetic. Pulling that film makes us look WEAK. North Korea looks even more weak by throwing such a temper tantrum over a movie they don’t like. SO WHAT? They don’t like it, they can shove it! I say if North Korea tries to censor us, we speak even louder. If they attack us, we obliterate them. One thing America always was, was where the people were brave and stood up for their way of life and their rights and we didn’t let anyone control us or back us down. Now look at us… cowing to North Korea’s lack of a sense of humor. How embarrassing. You know what they should do? Release it Christmas day online and let anyone who wants to watch it, watch it… even if for a small fee, if the theaters are to afraid to show it. What are they going to do? Hunt down every single person who watches the movie online? I doubt it. The whole world has gone crazy. This is like some childhood squabble blown up to an international level. North Korea should be ashamed of themselves and humiliated at how childish they’re being. If they would have just said nothing or maybe even been a part of the joke, then they’d have earned a whole lot of respect. Who ever is advising the leader there should be fired. I don’t know what’s happening in the world, I really don’t… everyone has got it into their heads that simply being ‘offended’ gives them the right to have total control over what other people say and do.

  15. janzagoddess says:

    How about an actor resembling kim only portraying Matt Lauer?

  16. Janobak says:

    Really wasn’t interested in seeing such a dumb movie in the first place… until N. Korea decided to bitch – slap Sony, Seth, and the whole damn country. Now I want to watch it while mooning Lil Kimmy J in his face. F*** u N. Korea! We do something here called freedom. We have bigger guns and almost all our citizens are armed, so bring it on a-holes!

    • The point here isn’t whether YOU wanted to see it. The point is that the leader of another country, set his hackers against an American company. This is going to have a huge effect on our economy as it trickles through the theaters where it’s NOT showing. What about the people who own the theaters? Or work in the theaters? Or the people who sell them drinks, popcorn, cleaning supplies, uniforms…it’s NOT just Sony who’s taking a hit here.

      Let’s suppose that next, the little Elvis looking, murdering twerp decides to go after the company where YOU work. Maybe I’M not planning on getting whatever product your company sells / provides. Does MY non-interest make it OK for a foreign dictator to tell us where or how to do business? How will YOUR pocket be affected by Mr. Kim taking on XYZ Corp, your companies big umbrella owner?

      Seeing it yet?

      And for you people who think ANY movie about the murder of a country’s leader to be wrong. Were you equally ‘outraged’ when they made that flick about GWB being killed? Or is it OK to kill a world leader on film, so long as the murdered leader is an American? A Republican? A Bush? Or white?

      Don’t talk out of both sides of your mouth children, it just makes you seem petty and small minded.

      • John Lyle says:

        Good comment, SCHTEVEO. The only good thing about this hacking deal is the exposure of the High Society lowlife’s that comprise the Hollywood elites. It was fun to see them scramble like the cockroaches that they are when the light of truth exposes what they really are. My guess is that these limpwristed liberals cut a deal with the hackers to halt the release of any more incriminating evidence.

  17. dharris1407 says:

    Actually, I think Sony may make more money than if they just released it on time….think about it…..they say the canceled it for safety reasons…..then…..get all of this publicity and outrage over North Korea…..then WAMO!!!……release the film, 10 times the amount of people go see it and Sony banks the money.

    • John Lyle says:

      Good comment, SCHTEVEO. The only good thing about this hacking deal is the exposure of the High Society lowlife’s that comprise the Hollywood elites. It was fun to see them scramble like the cockroaches that they are when the light of truth exposes what they really are. My guess is that these limpwristed liberals cut a deal with the hackers to halt the release of any more incriminating evidence.

  18. David Kraai says:

    Historically speaking, giving into terrorism never works. It only encourages terrorists.

    However, we understand that the threat to the public may be real (or not) and that theaters and Sony prefer to err on the side of caution.

    The solution is simple. Sony is unlikely to profit from this film now so it has no value to them. Sony should give the film to the US State department, or watchdog organizations, or maybe 50 plus other organizations, who should post it on YouTube and other media sharing sites.

    The film should be prefaced by a 10 minute documentary about the North Korean government’s hacking and other criminal acts.

    I doubt if the North Koreans can “blow up” everyone in the world who has a YouTube or other media account.

    The publicity raised will possibly make it the most watched film of the year and so instead of suppressing the film, North Korea would have ended up with the largest film promotion campaign of the year.

    This should be sufficiently embarrassing to them that they will “blow up” whomever s idea it was to hack Sony in the first place.

    That action should help deter others from following in their footsteps.

  19. Christmas says:

    Hey wake-up can you say publicity stunt…there is no way this movie can compete with the others being released at this time at the box office sooooo let’s get it more noticed by the hacker story so when it is released eventually people will run to see what’s all the hype.Duh.

  20. Mike Secret says:

    The real reason Sony pulled the Interview is not for the safety of the public but to stop the release of more embarrassing emails and information. They made a deal with the hackers.

  21. Mark says:

    Can’t believe Sony would cave like a bunch of pussies. The only logical explanation is that The Interview was such a god awful abomination that Sony invented this hack story, embarrassing emails and all, so that they could pull the movie before anyone could see it.

  22. This country stands for freedom,so what kind of message does this send to fellow Americans and the world? We should not bow down to any communistic threats. When will our government and fellow Americans wake up? If you ask me this is an outrage.

  23. duffrageous says:

    Yes, I have given it that thought. We won’t know until they finally do decide to release it. It won’t do much in the US here, but international sales will go through the roof as this has become international news.

    The reason they did withhold the movie was probably to prevent a public relations nightmare; either if the attackers released their Christmas Day surprise or if even one theater was blown up.

  24. Will says:

    I don’t understand it, they say it is scrapped yet I am still seeing trailers saying Christmas release, if you are going to scrap the film pull al advertisements immediately, as for me ill just sit here waiting for it to be “leaked” and torrent it.

  25. Atomic Fury says:

    That rumble you hear is that of all the buried American veterans turning in their graves.

  26. Ha! People at Sony are wimps, we have freedom of speech here and should never cave to terrorist threats.

  27. JimRed says:

    The America in which I grew up would have considered that threat a “make my day” moment. What a sissified bunch we’ve become!

  28. zinnsand21 says:

    This action goes to the very core of our democracy. If our freedom is subject to threats from cyber space this country is doomed. President Obama should intervene. The movie should be released on a limited basis and every theater screening the film should be provided military protection. Let the world know that threats from anyone will not compromise our freedom. Let freedom ring and don’t tread on me…

  29. TONY says:

    Where are Rogan and Franco? Hiding in FEAR BY CANCELLING THEIR MEDIA TOUR?
    Speaking of cowards, where are they? How come they aren’t standing up in PUBLIC backing their movie???

  30. Darrel says:

    Sony just bowed to terrorists like Obama bows to dictators.

  31. Brian Muzny says:

    What better way to increase movie sales that for Sony to make it your “Patriotic Duty” to “thumb your nose at the NKs and see this movie”?

  32. Brian Muzny says:

    Has anyone given any thought to the possibility that this is a clever publicity stunt by Sony to drum up support for a bad movie?

  33. Doug Erickson says:

    Could this be another “production” by Sony to get the interest and demand of the people to increase.
    As have controversial books and movies/

  34. Dan says:

    Movies lampoon Christians and blaspheme God with impunity, because Christians protest calmly and are consistently ignored by the mainstream media. Muslims and Communist dictators threaten violence, and everyone kowtows.

    • Alex says:

      I just got an idea. A movie where they assassinate… God, the greatest tyrant who never existed. Oh, I just know everyone will love it.

  35. dib8rman says:

    To those finding some way to justify this crap: How many movies of the White House blowing up under GWB were there again?

  36. bill says:

    You cowards. You racist, weak, hypocritical little cowards. Pascal should be fired immediately, along with all of her subordinates and hires, and the company should release the film on a different day.

    Clearly Sony is worried about more of her racist emails getting out so they pull the movie? In reality, the only way to combat FUTURE blackmail (because once it works, they will use it over and over) is to fire her and everybody she touches and rock the boat from stem to stern. Only then Can Sony move toward a future where it can play the “We didn’t know she was evil so we fired her” PR Game. Even though we all know that its no secret.

    Hope you enjoy being bent over the couch, Sony, get used to it, because now that you’ve put out for Kim Jong once, he’ll know that you’ll do it again.

  37. NK can doing nothing without the aid of and permission from China.

  38. hikesocal says:

    Man…Sony got this wrong in SO many ways. They could have sent a message to the world and been seen as an example of what America is all about. And there’s ZERO doubt they would have the support of the American people. People would have been clamoring to see that movie on opening day just to make a statement.

    Now they’re losing hundreds of millions of dollars, will face boycotts down the road and have made our nation less safe.

    Sony is toast.

  39. Dino says:

    What a bunch of BS – censorship by threats of terrorism? Are we cowering to the invisible voices on the other end of the line? Hell, I say Release it with the caveat of “There have been threats of terrorism for viewing this movie – view at own risk” and “Show your concealed carry permits for FREE admittance”

    Option 2:

    If I were Sony, I would release it to ALL the networks and grant them permission to show it “FOR FREE!!!” I would also consider making it available for free download online.
    If we cave these demands -what’s next? Will we cave and cower to their next demands?

    Screw them – let’s see some entertainment…I suggest a “Dennis Rodman Look-a-like contest at the opening” :-) 

  40. Tom Hagen says:

    Think back to that great movie “The Godfather”. Remember, it wasn’t the Tattaglia family that ‘hit’ the Corleone family. It was Barzini pulling the strings.

    Same thing is happening here. North Korea (Tattaglia) neither possesses the technical skill sets nor the reach necessary for this devastating computer hack. Now think, what regime consistently allies itself with North Korea, possesses the most talented computer engineers in the world and just happens to have global reach?

    There’s your Barzini.

  41. NuttBoxer says:

    Where is North Korea going to get hackers? Do they even have an internet cable going into that country? Something smell fishy here…

  42. john says:

    Screw them, show it anyway. Dare that little fat bastard to do something.

  43. jhenz says:

    When did we all turn into a bunch of cowering little pussies? Pathetic. Sony is probably afraid of being hacked again, but they should be sticking their middle finger up and playing the movie anyways.

  44. Sherwin says:

    Although the film may be a comedy of assinationation of Kim Um Jong 2, I can see how some people would be uncomfortable with it. Why was Kim Um Jong chosen over others? Was it because he’s mocked at within the US? Sony pictures should have seen the reminifications of it.

    • JimRed says:

      Maybe because very few, including most of his own people, would shed a tear for him. Some people NEED killing. He is one; Fidel and a few others as well.

  45. Objective America says:

    Dougie then what go to war with North Korea? Is that your solution? To easy to blame the president, much more complex than that. Decisions in the U.S. are definitly not executed by one person such as the president.

  46. sicilianpapa says:

    I think the United States should assassinate Kim Jong Un and release the movie all over the world.

  47. Mars says:

    Is there any way to convince North Korea that the Annie remake is insulting to their glorious leader? Please?

  48. Ken Valley says:

    So, when it comes to standing up for one’s freedom and rights, at least we know now that Hollywood will cave like a cheap suit. Of course we have a Marxist/Communist President who has set precedence for other cowardice liberals to follow. No wonder Hollywood has no b@ll$ left! Way to go liberals! You can blame your Marxist-in-Chief for your demise! And, all the while, the NSA will continue to spend its time spying on Americans, but will do nothing to North Korea. Classic Saul Alinsky!

    • Sherwin says:

      Labeling our President a ‘marxist-communist’ is not only insulting but demonstrates your stupidity. And ranting about Liberals proves you’re an imbecile. Eat straw, my friend for you’re one dumb elephant.

  49. terry says:

    They should broadcast it for free on MSNBC

  50. Eric says:

    DiCaprio called “despicable”? Jolie called “out of her mind”? These leaked emails reveal absolutely nothing the public hasn’t been saying for years. Thanks for revealing Hollywood’s Achilles heel: The only way to get them to completely cave in is to invade their privacy. They just wrote off any modicum of security now that they’ve signaled that to the hacking world. Good luck with that.

More Film News from Variety